Why do People Commit Suicide?

BY: Neighbors’ Consejo|

When we mention or read the word suicide, we get terrified, questions like: Why did he or she do it? Could I have helped prevent it? On the other hand, perhaps we generate hasty statements like “he or she went too far, it was not necessary”, “he or she was crazy”, and “he or she wanted attention”. However, it is important to know that this is a situation that we can all suffer; we just have to understand why and avoid it.

To begin with, we must be clear about what suicide is. Merriam- Webster [1]  defines it as “the act or an instance of taking one’s own life voluntary and intentionally”. The portal Here to Help [2]  affirms, “Suicide means ending your own life. It is sometimes a way for people to escape pain or suffering.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC [3] ) defines it as “death caused by injuring oneself with the intent to die.”

Before making the decision to commit suicide, people have suicidal thoughts such as frequent thoughts about death and dying, have spent time thinking about ways to die, believe they do not deserve to keep living, wish they could simply stop living [4] . Some of the most important symptoms are feeling hopeless, having mood shifts, either happy or sad, increasing the use of drugs or alcohol, getting hold of a gun or substances that could end a life, etc [5] .

Among some of the causes that can lead one to suicide are stress due to discrimination and prejudice; not being able to access care for mental health issues; a loss of work, of friends, of finances, or of a loved one; engaging in reckless or impulsive behavior; a feeling of seclusion or loneliness; exposure to graphic or sensationalized accounts of suicide; and experiencing legal problems or debt [6] .

The figures are alarming, according to the National Institute of Mental Health: “Suicide was the twelfth leading cause of death overall in the United States, claiming the lives of over 45,900 people; suicide was the second leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 10-14 and 25-34, the third leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 15-24, and the fourth leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 35 and 44; there were nearly two times as many suicides (45,979) in the United States as there were homicides (24, 576 [7] ).”

Now, if we review the suicide figures among Hispanic in the United States, they are also very high: The total number of suicides among non-elderly Hispanics adults between 2010 and 2020 was nearly 31,200 with more than 25,000 of them men. In those years, the suicide rate among men grew by nearly 36% and in women by about 41 [8] %. “In Texas, the suicide rate among non-Hispanic whites has been steadily increasing during the past 16 years, from 13.4 deaths per 100,000 residents in 2000 to 19.2 deaths per 100,000 in 2016. Meanwhile, the rate has remained largely unchanged among Hispanics, with 6.7 suicides per 100,000 residents in 2016 [9] ”.

Therefore, now that we are in National Suicide Prevention Month, it is important to remember to follow some tips to avoid committing this fatal act and even be able to advise others who are having suicidal thoughts [10] :

  • Ask them if they are thinking about suicide. Studies show that asking does not increase the risk.
  • Keep them safe by staying around and removing any means of committing suicide, such as knives, where possible.
  • Listen to them and be there for them.
  • Encourage them to call a helpline or contact someone they might turn to for support, such as friend, family member, or spiritual mentor.
  • Follow up with them after the crisis has passed, as this appears to reduce the risk of a recurrence.

If you are in crisis or with someone who is, call the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline 988 https://988lifeline.org/current-events/the-lifeline-and-988/. Before or after a crisis, contact a mental health services provider, such as the professionals at Neighbors’ Consejo https://neighborsc.org/contact/. Remember, you are not alone.












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